Schwarzenegger Calls Lawmakers Back to Work on Budget
December 19, 2008 - 5:49 PMGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he'll call lawmakers back to work on the state's budget woes in two months' time after saying a day earlier he planned a veto on an $18 billion deficit-cutting package pushed by Democrats.
"As we free-fall into a fiscal Armageddon, the Legislature still can't cross the special interests and do what's right for the state of California," Schwarzenegger said at a news conference. "The only thing they did really well was to increase taxes."
Lawmakers adjourned for the holidays Thursday after state Democrats pushed through a package of spending cuts and tax increases using a creative maneuver to bypass Republican support. Schwarzenegger wants lawmakers to return to the Capitol for a third special session and work until they reach a compromise on the state's mammoth $42 billion shortfall.
The governor said he rejected the Democrats' budget proposal because it lacked his demands for an economic recovery plan. His office had requested deeper cuts in welfare and senior assistance programs than Democrats were willing to offer, as well as broad authority to relax environmental regulation on public works projects and more toll roads.
Democratic leaders and environmental advocates that include Paul Mason, deputy director of the Sierra Club in California, questioned why the governor would toss aside the only deficit-cutting legislation to reach his desk since he declared a fiscal emergency on Nov. 5.
Mason suggested the governor was betraying his public image as a crusader against global warming through his environmental requests.
"It's inconsistent with the media image he likes to present with how green he is," Mason said.
Democrats sent the Republican governor a package of bills Thursday that would make more than $7 billion in cuts to education, health care and prisons, and increase taxes and fees by $9.3 billion. It proposed about $1.5 billion in other budget changes.
Associated Press Writers Judy Lin and Samantha Young contributed to this report from Sacramento.
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